Ford's Feisty New Figo

The Indian car market is dominated by the subcompact segment, and it’s there that Ford intends to market its new Figo, a little five-door model similar to the Fiesta. The Fiesta has already done extremely well in foreign markets, but Ford is hoping the sporty new Figo will appeal to consumers in India looking for an even lower- priced alternative to the Fiesta.

The Figo was recently unveiled in India but is the result of design and engineering exported by Ford Australia. The cars will be produced at a Ford facility in Chennai, India, with hopes that it will become one of Ford’s top selling models.

Ford Australia’s communications manager Sinead McAlary says, “We might not be exporting the actual vehicle, but the talent we have in Australia…is playing a global role in the Ford world.”

There are no plans yet to introduce the little Figo to the United States just yet, but that might be a possibility in the future, as Americans wean themselves from larger vehicles to the more eco-friendly and fuel efficient “city cars” that are so popular overseas.

Asked about U.S. plans, McAlary said, “At this stage we haven’t said no, but we’ve got no current plans. At this point we’re launching the new Fiesta (in the U.S.) and we want to concentrate on that.”

The Figo would be able to compete with the Alto and the Hyundai Getz and i20 at a bargain price. Considering automakers’ constant scramble for new engineering and a competitive edge, there is speculation that a U.S. version of the Figo may be a future possibility.

For now, Ford Australia is most concerned with making sure the Figo does well in its target market. McAlary said, “It’s very exciting for Ford Australia. It’s another example of how the experienced team here can be involved in developing projects not just for Australia but the Asia-Pacific region.”

Alan Mulally, Ford President and CEO, was in Delhi for the debut of the Figo. “Our exciting new Ford Figo shows how serious we are about India,” he said. “It reflects our commitment to compete with great products in all segments of this car market. We are confident the Ford Figo will be a product that Indian consumers really want and value.”

Although the Figo is similar to the Fiesta, it has feisty, modern body features like a large-mouth front bumper and sporty alloy wheels that are pushed to the car’s four corners. It has plenty of room inside for passengers and cargo, and its small size makes it perfect for traveling through narrow streets and areas such as the bazaars in India.

The Indian version of the Figo is scheduled to go into production in 2010.

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